Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Given equal conditions, which frame material holds up best over the years?

Notices
Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Given equal conditions, which frame material holds up best over the years?

Old 02-07-10, 03:44 PM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
bryroth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 860
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Given equal conditions, which frame material holds up best over the years?

Assuming normal wear and tear - no excessive rain riding or snow riding, proper storage, etc. - which frame material holds up the best over the years?

I ask because it seems to me that a nice road bike frame could potentially stay nice for a lifetime, even with heavy use. I have a steel frame that I like. I keep upgrading the parts, but if I don't want to upgrade the frame ever, is there a compelling reason to? There is no rust on the frame. There is a big dent, but that shouldn't matter with steel.

But the same should go for cf frames, aluminum, ti, etc. Do frames ever get "wear and tear?" Shouldn't we all be able to just invest in a frame we like and just replace wearable parts and upgrade components if necessary, but leave the frame - the "core" of the bike - unchanged?

First person to call this a troll question wins. But the question is serious. I'm doing some major upgrades to bike and just was wondering if I there is any reason I should just buy a whole new one instead.
bryroth is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 03:48 PM
  #2  
Señor Member
 
kimconyc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 3,744

Bikes: 2018 Lynskey R380 Ti | 2011 Hampsten Travelissimo Gran Paradiso Ti | 2001 De Rosa Neo Primato - Batik Del Monte, Genius | 1991 Eddy Merckx - Motorola, TSX

Likes: 0
Liked 14 Times in 7 Posts
Reynolds 953.
kimconyc is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 03:55 PM
  #3  
Upgrading my engine
 
DXchulo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Alamogordo
Posts: 6,218
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Ti.
DXchulo is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 03:55 PM
  #4  
Administrator
 
BillyD's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Hudson Valley, NY
Posts: 33,135

Bikes: Merlin Cyrene '04; Bridgestone RB-1 '92

Liked 6,870 Times in 3,576 Posts
Originally Posted by bryroth
I have a steel frame that I like. There is a big dent, but that shouldn't matter with steel.
Your remarks may well be seen as a flagrant and aggravated troll by some, but who cares . . . it is what it is . . . you can do this with metal.

What prize shall we award to the first person to retort that "all frame materials can fail"?
__________________
See, this is why we can't have nice things. - - smarkinson
Where else but the internet can a bunch of cyclists go and be the tough guy? - - jdon
BillyD is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 03:59 PM
  #5  
Senior Member
 
mzeffex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Colorado
Posts: 9,458

Bikes: Something Canadian, something Italian, something American, and something German

Likes: 0
Liked 16 Times in 10 Posts
Steel or Titanium. Seen lots of damaged steel that is still more than usable, but haven't seen any damaged titanium.
__________________
Originally Posted by rjones28
Are they talking about spectators feeding the cyclists? You know, like don't feed the bears?
mzeffex is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 04:00 PM
  #6  
Señor Member
 
kimconyc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 3,744

Bikes: 2018 Lynskey R380 Ti | 2011 Hampsten Travelissimo Gran Paradiso Ti | 2001 De Rosa Neo Primato - Batik Del Monte, Genius | 1991 Eddy Merckx - Motorola, TSX

Likes: 0
Liked 14 Times in 7 Posts
Again, Reynolds 953.

/thread.
kimconyc is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 04:18 PM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Aus
Posts: 636
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
With any steel, wouldn't the risk of gradual degradation (rust) be more likely than other materials?
damnable is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 04:36 PM
  #8  
Still can't climb
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Limey in Taiwan
Posts: 23,024
Likes: 0
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
today i rode my steel bike that i converted to single speed after i got the carbon frame. it is still such a fun ride. clearly less comfy than the carbon but still fun and responsive. i'll never get rid of it.
__________________
coasting, few quotes are worthy of him, and of those, even fewer printable in a family forum......quote 3alarmer

No @coasting, you should stay 100% as you are right now, don't change a thing....quote Heathpack
coasting is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 04:40 PM
  #9  
Senior Member
 
mzeffex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Colorado
Posts: 9,458

Bikes: Something Canadian, something Italian, something American, and something German

Likes: 0
Liked 16 Times in 10 Posts
Actually I suppose carbon assuming you don't crash it. Won't rust or corrode..
__________________
Originally Posted by rjones28
Are they talking about spectators feeding the cyclists? You know, like don't feed the bears?
mzeffex is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 04:40 PM
  #10  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 719
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Steel, so long as it doesn't rust.

Titanium develops stress fractures over time due to it being very rigid. This is why titanium aircraft have to be meticulously maintained.

Aluminum is pound-for-pound stronger than steel, but I think any given steel bike frame would be stronger with steel, with the same design.

Carbon... well, it's stronger than steel but very, very brittle. It also doesn't corrode, so I guess as long as the resin doesn't degrade, and you don't have any serious impacts, the carbon could feasibly last longer than steel. But if you don't crash a bike once in a while, you're not going fast enough
baribari is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 04:47 PM
  #11  
Bicycle Repair Man !!!
 
Sixty Fiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: YEG
Posts: 27,267

Bikes: See my sig...

Liked 134 Times in 99 Posts
Steel has proven itself time and time again as being the most durable and most economical material with which to build bicycles frames and parts... because of a nearly infinite fatigue life under normal conditions a well protected steel frame will outlast generations of riders.

Aluminium does not have the same fatigue life and like carbon, fails catastrophically when it hit's it's limits. Most would not choose a carbon frame for day to day usage over the long term due to it's vulnerability to damage but as a rather economical high performance material none can compare.

Lightweight carbon bikes are also less expensive to produce than comparable steel bicycles... you can build a steel framed bicycle to exceed UCI limits but you will need really deep pockets to do so.

Titanium is probably the best material out there if you are looking for strength, lightness, corrosion resistance, and an infinite service life but it is prohibitively expensive.

Determining the best has to incorporate a lot of different factors and if I was building a lifetime bike I would probably settle on steel because of the cost vs performance aspect... Reynold's 953 is amazing stuff but requires special skills for fabrication.

I have one Al bike that just turned 10 and it has seen tens of thousands of really hard miles and is solid as it was on day 1 but also have steel bikes that date back to the 30's and 40's that are still going strong.
Sixty Fiver is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 04:52 PM
  #12  
Still can't climb
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Limey in Taiwan
Posts: 23,024
Likes: 0
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
is steel considered economical? i thought new steel is really expensive boutique stuff now.
__________________
coasting, few quotes are worthy of him, and of those, even fewer printable in a family forum......quote 3alarmer

No @coasting, you should stay 100% as you are right now, don't change a thing....quote Heathpack
coasting is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 04:58 PM
  #13  
location:northern Ohio
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,589
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by coasting
is steel considered economical? i thought new steel is really expensive boutique stuff now.
I think some guy named Mike at Performancenashbardirectbike sells a lot of inexpensive steelies.
spry is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 05:04 PM
  #14  
Still can't climb
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Limey in Taiwan
Posts: 23,024
Likes: 0
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
Originally Posted by spry
I think some guy named Mike at Performancenashbardirectbike sells a lot of inexpensive steelies.

shill. we haven't had one of those threads for absolutely ages. you'd have thought winter would be the time for those stupid threads.
__________________
coasting, few quotes are worthy of him, and of those, even fewer printable in a family forum......quote 3alarmer

No @coasting, you should stay 100% as you are right now, don't change a thing....quote Heathpack
coasting is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 05:11 PM
  #15  
Bicycle Repair Man !!!
 
Sixty Fiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: YEG
Posts: 27,267

Bikes: See my sig...

Liked 134 Times in 99 Posts
Originally Posted by baribari
Aluminum is pound-for-pound stronger than steel, but I think any given steel bike frame would be stronger with steel, with the same design.
Thing here is not the weight, but the specific gravity of the respective materials as this effects the practical limits of tube sizes that can be used.

Aluminium is only 1/3 as stiff as steel, 1/2 as strong, and 1/3 the weight as a similar volume of steel. This is why aluminium frames need oversized tubes with thicker walls to match the strength of a 1 inch steel tube while still saving some weight.

Titanium is as strong as steel at half the weight but due to a lower specific gravity building a titanium frame to the same specs as a steel frame would give you a very noodly frame since it is not as stiff... this is why Ti tubes are slightly oversized as a larger tube is a stronger / stiffer tube and slightly thinner walls can be used to reduce weight.

At best you are going to save about a pound if you use aluminium or Titanium instead of steel and for most riders this isn't anything they will notice.
Sixty Fiver is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 05:14 PM
  #16  
location:northern Ohio
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,589
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by coasting
shill. we haven't had one of those threads for absolutely ages. you'd have thought winter would be the time for those stupid threads.
If you push the gin soaked old geezer off his bike in Soho you can own one of those old limey built steel Raleighs.
spry is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 09:30 PM
  #17  
Fly on the wall
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Colorado Springs
Posts: 981

Bikes: a few

Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by bryroth
First person to call this a troll question wins. But the question is serious. I'm doing some major upgrades to bike and just was wondering if I there is any reason I should just buy a whole new one instead.
Troll. I win.

From my inexperienced point of view, I'll vote steel. Particularly Reynolds 953.
kindablue is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 11:39 PM
  #18  
fuggitivo solitario
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Northern NJ
Posts: 9,107
Liked 13 Times in 9 Posts
Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
Steel has proven itself time and time again as being the most durable and most economical material with which to build bicycles frames and parts... because of a nearly infinite fatigue life under normal conditions a well protected steel frame will outlast generations of riders.

Aluminium does not have the same fatigue life and like carbon, fails catastrophically when it hit's it's limits. Most would not choose a carbon frame for day to day usage over the long term due to it's vulnerability to damage but as a rather economical high performance material none can compare.

Lightweight carbon bikes are also less expensive to produce than comparable steel bicycles... you can build a steel framed bicycle to exceed UCI limits but you will need really deep pockets to do so.

Titanium is probably the best material out there if you are looking for strength, lightness, corrosion resistance, and an infinite service life but it is prohibitively expensive.

Determining the best has to incorporate a lot of different factors and if I was building a lifetime bike I would probably settle on steel because of the cost vs performance aspect... Reynold's 953 is amazing stuff but requires special skills for fabrication.

I have one Al bike that just turned 10 and it has seen tens of thousands of really hard miles and is solid as it was on day 1 but also have steel bikes that date back to the 30's and 40's that are still going strong.
so does this mean that you have to get a $3k-4k frame in order to have the strength, lightness, corrosion resistance, and service life that you have described? what about regular 3V-2.5Al frames such as the lynskey 200 & 300 series?
echappist is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 11:43 PM
  #19  
Peloton Shelter Dog
 
patentcad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Chester, NY
Posts: 90,508

Bikes: 2017 Scott Foil, 2016 Scott Addict SL, 2018 Santa Cruz Blur CC MTB

Liked 28 Times in 22 Posts
Why would anyone say any type of steel holds up better than Ti? Just because Titanium doesn't rust.

Or is there something different about 953 from other tubing in that respect?
patentcad is offline  
Old 02-07-10, 11:46 PM
  #20  
Peloton Shelter Dog
 
patentcad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Chester, NY
Posts: 90,508

Bikes: 2017 Scott Foil, 2016 Scott Addict SL, 2018 Santa Cruz Blur CC MTB

Liked 28 Times in 22 Posts
Also, I really don't think Ti is prohibitively expensive when you can buy perfectly high quality complete bikes from BD for $2000-$2700 with Ultegra or Dura Ace. Those road frames are from the same factory as my Motobecane Fly Ti MTB, and that bike looks like it came out of the Litespeed factory. VERY impressive indeed. If my Ibis Ti Road ever gives up the ghost, I'd probably replace it with one of those.

But the Ibis Ti probably won't ever crack or break. It's 15 years old now, God only knows how many miles. 40,000 or more. Love that bike, it has sentimental value, and as long as it's not broken I'd keep it and/or re-finish it again in the future. Fantastic bicycle.
patentcad is offline  
Old 02-08-10, 01:29 AM
  #21  
Bicycle Repair Man !!!
 
Sixty Fiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: YEG
Posts: 27,267

Bikes: See my sig...

Liked 134 Times in 99 Posts
Originally Posted by mcjimbosandwich
so does this mean that you have to get a $3k-4k frame in order to have the strength, lightness, corrosion resistance, and service life that you have described? what about regular 3V-2.5Al frames such as the lynskey 200 & 300 series?
It is probably a good time to invest in that Lynskey... their prices are probably as low as they will ever be as the price of Ti has dropped a great deal and we are also in a recession which tends to motivate manufacturers to cut folks a much better deal.

The R230 frame w/ carbon fork is selling for $1999.00 and their Cooper frameset is selling for 1500.00... those are very good prices as a few years ago Ti prices were off the scale and I know of a few companies that actually had to discontinue and delay some production because of this.

In comparison my rather exceptional steel hardtail was $1000.00 (frame only) so when well made Ti frames are approaching that of steel you know the price is good.

We were talking about what would last the longest in a nice environment and diverged a little into costs... I think that Ti would be the best bet in even the harshest of environments as you really would not have to take any special precautions to protect the frame.

The fatigue life of steel and Ti might as well be considered indefinite in cycling applications while aluminium does have a finite fatigue life.
Sixty Fiver is offline  
Old 02-08-10, 05:46 AM
  #22  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,135
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Ti. Even if it does break alot of the companys who make Ti frames give a lifetime guarentee.
Dheorl is offline  
Old 02-08-10, 07:10 AM
  #23  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Haunchyville
Posts: 6,407
Liked 10 Times in 6 Posts
Originally Posted by patentcad
Why would anyone say any type of steel holds up better than Ti? Just because Titanium doesn't rust.

Or is there something different about 953 from other tubing in that respect?
Yes, 953 is stainless steel and extremely corrosion resistant.

To OP, I think any rider looking to get the most return on their frame investment needs to look at how they ride and maintain their bike and where they live (climate, road conditions) and take their best guess on what makes sense. "Equal conditions" can mean a lot of different things and when you are talking about how a frame is going to hold up 10+ years out the small differences like bumpy roads (fatigue) and relative humidity (rust) can make the difference. Do a search here and you will find plenty of stories and pics of failed frames of all types.
canam73 is offline  
Old 02-08-10, 08:13 AM
  #24  
Señor Member
 
kimconyc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 3,744

Bikes: 2018 Lynskey R380 Ti | 2011 Hampsten Travelissimo Gran Paradiso Ti | 2001 De Rosa Neo Primato - Batik Del Monte, Genius | 1991 Eddy Merckx - Motorola, TSX

Likes: 0
Liked 14 Times in 7 Posts
Originally Posted by patentcad
Why would anyone say any type of steel holds up better than Ti? Just because Titanium doesn't rust.

Or is there something different about 953 from other tubing in that respect?
953 is maraging steel--it's an alloy (stainless) therefore does not rust like regular steel.

It also has a tensile strength of 1750 to 2050MPa, over twice that of Ti.
https://www.strongframes.com/blog/wp-...s/953-FAQs.pdf
https://asm.matweb.com/search/Specifi...bassnum=MTP641

So you have a bike that is twice is strong as Ti, can be made with lighter tubes than Ti, has the ride characteristics of regular steel yet stiffer when accelerating, cheaper than Ti (prices from IF website), etc.

953 is still new and that's why many people don't know about it yet. I've never seen a bike with 953 tubing in person; that makes sense though when CF is the marketed high-end material of choice right now.
kimconyc is offline  
Old 02-08-10, 08:17 AM
  #25  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Boston
Posts: 4,556
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
It is probably a good time to invest in that Lynskey... their prices are probably as low as they will ever be as the price of Ti has dropped a great deal and we are also in a recession which tends to motivate manufacturers to cut folks a much better deal.

The R230 frame w/ carbon fork is selling for $1999.00 and their Cooper frameset is selling for 1500.00... those are very good prices as a few years ago Ti prices were off the scale and I know of a few companies that actually had to discontinue and delay some production because of this.
I don't think Titanium prices are headed back to where they were. Not to say the bike makers won't raise their prices .
crhilton is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Your Privacy Choices -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.